Tennessee Football All-American John Michels Passes Away

Credit: UT Athletics

Tennessee football great John Michels passed away on Thursday at the age of 87.

Michels, who wore No. 38, was a 1952 consensus All-American and a two-time All-SEC First Team selection at offensive guard. He helped lead the Vols to the consensus national championship and a 10-0 regular season in 1951. The Vols’ offense rushed for 3,068 yards (306.8 yards per game) and 40 touchdowns – both school records – in 1951.

During his senior season in 1952, Michels was awarded the Jacobs Trophy, given to the SEC’s best blocker. In his three years of varsity football, Tennessee compiled a record of 29-4-1.

His bio in the 1952 Tennessee football media guide stated Michaels was “considered by the coaching staff to be the finest offensive guard in Tennessee football history.”

Additionally, legendary former Tennessee head coach Gen. Robert R. Neyland said Michels was the “best blocking guard in the United States.”

A Philadelphia, Pa., native, Michels went on to play for the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL in 1953 and 1956 before spending one season with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the CFL in 1957. He was an assistant coach at Texas A&M for one season, and helped the Blue Bombers capture three CFL Grey Cups as assistant coach.

Michels served as an assistant coach with the Minnesota Vikings for 27 years, coaching primarily the offensive line and helping lead the team to four Super Bowl appearances.

Michels was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996 and the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.


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